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‘Jury Duty’ Premiere Review: A Hilariously Absurd Mockumentary

By Rachel A. Beard, Contributing Writer

Freevee’s “Jury Duty,” the first four episodes of which aired on April 7, is a new documentary-style comedy reminiscent of “The Office.” It is deadpan, ironic, and wonderfully sarcastic, keeping the audience chuckling at the sheer absurdity of the events. The first half of the season indicates that the show will be strong and leaves viewers waiting for the next episodes.

The show’s concept is unique as it follows the jury process through the eyes of Ronald Gladden, who is both a contractor and the only person on set who is not an actor. Gladden is under the impression that they are filming a real documentary and everything happening around him is rooted in reality. In actuality, everyone around Gladden is acting. The show follows an entire trial process from jury selection to arguments and, eventually, the verdict.

One of the standout features of the show is the superb acting, which brings to life an eccentric cast of characters. From the cyber-crazed dork to the ultra-religious virgin, the actors embrace the absurdity of their roles with nuance and skill. Even James Marsden, who plays a parodied version of himself, delivers a performance that is both hilarious and endearing. Together, the characters create a vibrant and memorable world that keeps viewers engaged and entertained.

In particular, Cassandra Blair gives an excellent performance as she plays Vanessa Jenkins, one of the less erratic characters in the show who at first appears to blend into the background of the more eccentric characters. However, Blair’s excellent comedic timing provides a breath of fresh air among the crazier characters. She comes across as one the most entertaining jurors, despite having a smaller role.

The writing in the show is also a key factor in its success, as it deftly balances the absurdity of the concept with genuine moments of emotion and humor. With the hilarious antics of the jurors around Gladden, the show never fails to keep viewers engaged and entertained. The trial the writers created for the jurors to participate in is ridiculous without being unbelievable as the plaintiff, defendant, and their lawyers clash in the courtroom while both utterly failing to present a sound argument. Although the basics of the trial and concepts are scripted, the show also heavily relies on actor improvisation.

A review of the show wouldn’t be complete without discussing Ronald Gladden. As just an ordinary guy trying to make a little extra cash, Gladden clearly had no idea what he is for with the pure chaos that would ensue. However, even as a nonactor, Gladden manages to be thoroughly entertaining. His truly genuine reactions just make the absurdity even funnier as he tries to make sense of the insanity around him, such as the chair pants invented by fellow juror Todd.

What comes across clearly is that Gladden is just naturally charismatic. He has a carefree and outgoing personality as he tries to make friends with his fellow jurors and unite the group. He embarks on several side quests trying to serve as foreperson and help his jurors navigate their personal relationships.

"Jury Duty" is a clever and entertaining show that delivers laughs while also keeping viewers engaged with its unique concept and well-executed performances. It's refreshing to see a show that doesn't take itself too seriously while still managing to deliver genuine moments of humor. With its excellent writing and talented cast, "Jury Duty" is definitely a show worth watching. Whether the viewer is a fan of mockumentaries or just in the mood for a good laugh, this show is sure to deliver.

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